Alief in Action (and Reaction)

Tamar Szabó Gendler

in Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589760
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595486 | DOI:
Alief in Action (and Reaction)

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This chapter discusses the notion of alief: an innate or habitual propensity to respond to an apparent stimulus in a particular way. Recognizing the role that alief plays in our cognitive repertoire provides a framework for understanding reactions that are governed by non‐conscious or automatic mechanisms, which in turn brings into proper relief the role played by reactions that are subject to conscious regulation and deliberate control. It also brings out the connection between a number of otherwise apparently discrepant issues—including fictional emotions, heuristics‐based errors, and residual racism—and renders unmysterious a number of otherwise perplexing phenomena, for example, certain superstitions. By directing philosophical attention to responses that are governed by habit and instinct, it encourages a new appreciation of a number of important insights from the ancient (Aristotle) and early modern traditions (René Descartes and David Hume), particularly those related to self‐regulation and morality.

Keywords: alief; belief; non‐conscious; automatic; conscious regulation; fictional emotions; heuristics; racism; superstition; habit; self‐regulation; Aristotle; René Descartes; David Hume

Chapter.  14840 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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